Part 2 out of 4
Bewitch the broad wheat-acres everywhere
To imitated gold of thy deep hair:
The peach, by thy red lips' delicious trouble,
Blown into gradual dyes
Of crimson; and beheld thy magic double--
Dark-blue with fervid influence of thine eyes--
The grapes' rotundities,
Bubble by purple bubble.
Deliberate uttered into life intense,
Out of thy soul's melodious eloquence
Beauty evolves its just preeminence:
The lily, from some pensive-smitten chord
Of purity, a visible hush stands: starred
With splendor, from thy passionate utterance,
The rose writes its romance
In blushing word on word.
As star by star Day harps in Evening,
The inspiration of all things that sing
Is in thy hands and from their touch takes wing:
All brooks, all birds,--whom song can never sate,--
The leaves, the wind and rain,
Green frogs and insects, singing soon and late,
Thy sympathies inspire, thy heart's refrain,
Whose sounds invigorate
With rest life's weary brain.
And as the Night, like some mysterious rune,
Its beauty makes emphatic with the moon,
Thou lutest us no immaterial tune:
But where dim whispers haunt the cane and corn,
By thy still strain made strong,
Earth's awful avatar,--in whom is born
Thy own deep music,--labors all night long
With growth, assuring Morn
Assumes with onward song.
The mellow smell of hollyhocks
And marigolds and pinks and phlox
Blends with the homely garden scents
Of onions, silvering into rods;
Of peppers, scarlet with their pods;
And (rose of all the esculents)
Of broad plebeian cabbages,
Breathing content and corpulent ease.
The buzz of wasp and fly makes hot
The spaces of the garden-plot;
And from the orchard,--where the fruit
Ripens and rounds, or, loosed with heat,
Rolls, hornet-clung, before the feet,--
One hears the veery's golden flute,
That mixes with the sleepy hum
Of bees that drowsily go and come.
The podded musk of gourd and vine
Embower a gate of roughest pine,
That leads into a wood where day
Sits, leaning o'er a forest pool,
Watching the lilies opening cool,
And dragonflies at airy play,
While, dim and near, the quietness
Rustles and stirs her leafy dress.
Far-off a cowbell clangs awake
The noon who slumbers in the brake:
And now a pewee, plaintively,
Whistles the day to sleep again:
A rain-crow croaks a rune for rain,
And from the ripest apple tree
A great gold apple thuds, where, slow,
The red cock curves his neck to crow.
Hens cluck their broods from place to place,
While clinking home, with chain and trace,
The cart-horse plods along the road
Where afternoon sits with his dreams:
Hot fragrance of hay-making streams
Above him, and a high-heaped load
Goes creaking by and with it, sweet,
The aromatic soul of heat.
"Coo-ee! coo-ee!" the evenfall
Cries, and the hills repeat the call:
"Coo-ee! coo-ee!" and by the log
Labor unharnesses his plow,
While to the barn comes cow on cow:
"Coo-ee! coo-ee!"--and, with his dog,
Barefooted boyhood down the lane
"Coo-ees" the cattle home again.
Can freckled August,--drowsing warm and blond
Beside a wheat-shock in the white-topped mead,
In her hot hair the yellow daisies wound,--
O bird of rain, lend aught but sleepy heed
To thee? when no plumed weed, no feathered seed
Blows by her; and no ripple breaks the pond,
That gleams like flint within its rim of grasses,
Through which the dragonfly forever passes
Like splintered diamond.
Drouth weights the trees; and from the farmhouse eaves
The locust, pulse-beat of the summer day,
Throbs; and the lane, that shambles under leaves
Limp with the heat--a league of rutty way--
Is lost in dust; and sultry scents of hay
Breathe from the panting meadows heaped with sheaves--
Now, now, O bird, what hint is there of rain,
In thirsty meadow or on burning plain,
That thy keen eye perceives?
But thou art right. Thou prophesiest true.
For hardly hast thou ceased thy forecasting,
When, up the western fierceness of scorched blue,
Great water-carrier winds their buckets bring
Brimming with freshness. How their dippers ring
And flash and rumble! lavishing large dew
On corn and forest land, that, streaming wet,
Their hilly backs against the downpour set,
Like giants, loom in view.
The butterfly, safe under leaf and flower,
Has found a roof, knowing how true thou art;
The bumblebee, within the last half-hour,
Has ceased to hug the honey to its heart;
While in the barnyard, under shed and cart,
Brood-hens have housed.--But I, who scorned thy power,
Barometer of birds,--like August there,--
Beneath a beech, dripping from foot to hair,
Like some drenched truant, cower.
FIELD AND FOREST CALL
There is a field, that leans upon two hills,
Foamed o'er of flowers and twinkling with clear rills;
That in its girdle of wild acres bears
The anodyne of rest that cures all cares;
Wherein soft wind and sun and sound are blent
With fragrance--as in some old instrument
Sweet chords;--calm things, that Nature's magic spell
Distills from Heaven's azure crucible,
And pours on Earth to make the sick mind well.
There lies the path, they say--
Come away! come away!
There is a forest, lying 'twixt two streams,
Sung through of birds and haunted of dim dreams;
That in its league-long hand of trunk and leaf
Lifts a green wand that charms away all grief;
Wrought of quaint silence and the stealth of things,
Vague, whispering' touches, gleams and twitterings,
Dews and cool shadows--that the mystic soul
Of Nature permeates with suave control,
And waves o'er Earth to make the sad heart whole.
There lies the road, they say--
Come away! come away!
Old homes among the hills! I love their gardens;
Their old rock fences, that our day inherits;
Their doors, round which the great trees stand like wardens;
Their paths, down which the shadows march like spirits;
Broad doors and paths that reach bird-haunted gardens.
I see them gray among their ancient acres,
Severe of front, their gables lichen-sprinkled,--
Like gentle-hearted, solitary Quakers,
Grave and religious, with kind faces wrinkled,--
Serene among their memory-hallowed acres.
Their gardens, banked with roses and with lilies--
Those sweet aristocrats of all the flowers--
Where Springtime mints her gold in daffodillies,
And Autumn coins her marigolds in showers,
And all the hours are toilless as the lilies.
I love their orchards where the gay woodpecker
Flits, flashing o'er you, like a winged jewel;
Their woods, whose floors of moss the squirrels checker
With half-hulled nuts; and where, in cool renewal,
The wild brooks laugh, and raps the red woodpecker.
Old homes! old hearts! Upon my soul forever
Their peace and gladness lie like tears and laughter;
Like love they touch me, through the years that sever,
With simple faith; like friendship, draw me after
The dreamy patience that is theirs forever.
THE FOREST WAY
I climbed a forest path and found
A dim cave in the dripping ground,
Where dwelt the spirit of cool sound,
Who wrought with crystal triangles,
And hollowed foam of rippled bells,
A music of mysterious spells.
Where Sleep her bubble-jewels spilled
Of dreams; and Silence twilight-filled
Her emerald buckets, star-instilled,
With liquid whispers of lost springs,
And mossy tread of woodland things,
And drip of dew that greenly clings.
Here by those servitors of Sound,
Warders of that enchanted ground,
My soul and sense were seized and bound,
And, in a dungeon deep of trees
Entranced, were laid at lazy ease,
The charge of woodland mysteries.
The minions of Prince Drowsihead,
The wood-perfumes, with sleepy tread,
Tiptoed around my ferny bed:
And far away I heard report
Of one who dimly rode to Court,
The Faery Princess, Eve-Amort.
Her herald winds sang as they passed;
And there her beauty stood at last,
With wild gold locks, a band held fast,
Above blue eyes, as clear as spar;
While from a curved and azure jar
She poured the white moon and a star.
SUNSET AND STORM
Deep with divine tautology,
The sunset's mighty mystery
Again has traced the scroll-like west
With hieroglyphs of burning gold:
Forever new, forever old,
Its miracle is manifest.
Time lays the scroll away. And now
Above the hills a giant brow
Of cloud Night lifts; and from his arm,
Barbaric black, upon the world,
With thunder, wind and fire, is hurled
His awful argument of storm.
What part, O man, is yours in such?
Whose awe and wonder are in touch
With Nature,--speaking rapture to
Your soul,--yet leaving in your reach
No human word of thought or speech
Commensurate with the thing you view.
From the lyrical eclogue "One Day and Another"
Now rests the season in forgetfulness,
Careless in beauty of maturity;
The ripened roses round brown temples, she
Fulfills completion in a dreamy guess.
Now Time grants night the more and day the less:
The gray decides; and brown
Dim golds and drabs in dulling green express
Themselves and redden as the year goes down.
Sadder the fields where, thrusting hoary high
Their tasseled heads, the Lear-like corn-stocks die,
And, Falstaff-like, buff-bellied pumpkins lie.--
Deepening with tenderness,
Sadder the blue of hills that lounge along
The lonesome west; sadder the song
Of the wild redbird in the leafage yellow.--
Deeper and dreamier, aye!
Than woods or waters, leans the languid sky
Above lone orchards where the cider press
Drips and the russets mellow.
Nature grows liberal: from the beechen leaves
The beech-nuts' burrs their little purses thrust,
Plump with the copper of the nuts that rust;
Above the grass the spendthrift spider weaves
A web of silver for which dawn designs
Thrice twenty rows of pearls: beneath the oak,
That rolls old roots in many gnarly lines,--
The polished acorns, from their saucers broke,
Strew oval agates.--On sonorous pines
The far wind organs; but the forest near
Is silent; and the blue-white smoke
Of burning brush, beyond that field of hay,
Hangs like a pillar in the atmosphere:
But now it shakes--it breaks, and all the vines
And tree tops tremble; see! the wind is here!
Billowing and boisterous; and the smiling day
Rejoices in its clamor. Earth and sky
Resound with glory of its majesty,
Impetuous splendor of its rushing by.--
But on those heights the woodland dark is still,
Expectant of its coming.... Far away
Each anxious tree upon each waiting hill
Tingles anticipation, as in gray
Surmise of rapture. Now the first gusts play,
Like laughter low, about their rippling spines;
And now the wildwood, one exultant sway,
Shouts--and the light at each tumultuous pause,
The light that glooms and shines,
Seems hands in wild applause.
How glows that garden!--Though the white mists keep
The vagabonding flowers reminded of
Decay that comes to slay in open love,
When the full moon hangs cold and night is deep;
Unheeding still their cardinal colors leap
Gay in the crescent of the blade of death,--
Spaced innocents whom he prepares to reap,--
Staying his scythe a breath
To mark their beauty ere, with one last sweep,
He lays them dead and turns away to weep.--
Let me admire,--
Before the sickle of the coming cold
Shall mow them down,--their beauties manifold:
How like to spurts of fire
That scarlet salvia lifts its blooms, which heap
With flame the sunlight. And, as sparkles creep
Through charring vellum, up that window's screen
The cypress dots with crimson all its green,
The haunt of many bees.
Cascading dark old porch-built lattices,
The nightshade bleeds with berries; drops of blood
Hanging in clusters 'mid the blue monk's-hood.
There is a garden old,
Where bright-hued clumps of zinnias unfold
Their formal flowers; where the marigold
Lifts a pinched shred of orange sunset caught
And elfed in petals; the nasturtium,
Deep, pungent-leaved and acrid of perfume,
Hangs up a goblin bonnet, pixy-brought
From Gnomeland. There, predominant red,
And arrogant, the dahlia lifts its head,
Beside the balsam's rose-stained horns of honey,
Lost in the murmuring, sunny
Dry wildness of the weedy flower bed;
Where crickets and the weed-bugs, noon and night,
Shrill dirges for the flowers that soon shall die,
And flowers already dead.--
I seem to hear the passing Summer sigh:
A voice, that seems to weep,--
"Too soon, too soon the Beautiful passes by!
And soon, among these bowers
Will dripping Autumn mourn with all her flowers"--
If I, perchance, might peep
Beneath those leaves of podded hollyhocks,
That the bland wind with odorous murmurs rocks,
I might behold her,--white
And weary,--Summer, 'mid her flowers asleep,
Her drowsy flowers asleep,
The withered poppies knotted in her locks.
ONE WHO LOVED NATURE
He was not learned in any art;
But Nature led him by the hand;
And spoke her language to his heart
So he could hear and understand:
He loved her simply as a child;
And in his love forgot the heat
Of conflict, and sat reconciled
In patience of defeat.
Before me now I see him rise--
A face, that seventy years had snowed
With winter, where the kind blue eyes
Like hospitable fires glowed:
A small gray man whose heart was large,
And big with knowledge learned of need;
A heart, the hard world made its targe,
That never ceased to bleed.
He knew all Nature. Yea, he knew
What virtue lay within each flower,
What tonic in the dawn and dew,
And in each root what magic power:
What in the wild witch-hazel tree
Reversed its time of blossoming,
And clothed its branches goldenly
In fall instead of spring.
He knew what made the firefly glow
And pulse with crystal gold and flame;
And whence the bloodroot got its snow,
And how the bramble's perfume came:
He understood the water's word
And grasshopper's and cricket's chirr;
And of the music of each bird
He was interpreter.
He kept no calendar of days,
But knew the seasons by the flowers;
And he could tell you by the rays
Of sun or stars the very hours.
He probed the inner mysteries
Of light, and knew the chemic change
That colors flowers, and what is
Their fragrance wild and strange.
If some old oak had power of speech,
It could not speak more wildwood lore,
Nor in experience further reach,
Than he who was a tree at core.
Nature was all his heritage,
And seemed to fill his every need;
Her features were his book, whose page
He never tired to read.
He read her secrets that no man
Has ever read and never will,
And put to scorn the charlatan
Who botanizes of her still.
He kept his knowledge sweet and clean,
And questioned not of why and what;
And never drew a line between
What's known and what is not.
He was most gentle, good, and wise;
A simpler heart earth never saw:
His soul looked softly from his eyes,
And in his speech were love and awe.
Yet Nature in the end denied
The thing he had not asked for--fame!
Unknown, in poverty he died,
And men forget his name.
Thin, chisel-fine a cricket chipped
The crystal silence into sound;
And where the branches dreamed and dripped
A grasshopper its dagger stripped
And on the humming darkness ground.
A bat, against the gibbous moon,
Danced, implike, with its lone delight;
The glowworm scrawled a golden rune
Upon the dark; and, emerald-strewn,
The firefly hung with lamps the night.
The flowers said their beads in prayer,
Dew-syllables of sighed perfume;
Or talked of two, soft-standing there,
One like a gladiole, straight and fair,
And one like some rich poppy-bloom.
The mignonette and feverfew
Laid their pale brows together:--"See!"
One whispered: "Did their step thrill through
Your roots?"--"Like rain."--"I touched the two
And a new bud was born in me."
One rose said to another:--"Whose
Is this dim music? song, that parts
My crimson petals like the dews?"
"My blossom trembles with sweet news--
It is the love of two young hearts."
A mile of moonlight and the whispering wood:
A mile of shadow and the odorous lane:
One large, white star above the solitude,
Like one sweet wish: and, laughter after pain,
Wild-roses wistful in a web of rain.
No star, no rose, to lesson him and lead;
No woodsman compass of the skies and rocks,--
Tattooed of stars and lichens,--doth love need
To guide him where, among the hollyhocks,
A blur of moonlight, gleam his sweetheart's locks.
We name it beauty--that permitted part,
The love-elected apotheosis
Of Nature, which the god within the heart,
Just touching, makes immortal, but by this--
A star, a rose, the memory of a kiss.
An agate-black, your roguish eyes
Claim no proud lineage of the skies,
No starry blue; but of good earth
The reckless witchery and mirth.
Looped in your raven hair's repose,
A hot aroma, one red rose
Dies; envious of that loveliness,
By being near which its is less.
Twin sea shells, hung with pearls, your ears,
Whose slender rosiness appears
Part of the pearls; whose pallid fire
Binds the attention these inspire.
One slim hand crumples up the lace
About your bosom's swelling grace;
A ruby at your samite throat
Lends the required color note.
The moon bears through the violet night
A pearly urn of chaliced light;
And from your dark-railed balcony
You stoop and wave your fan at me.
O'er orange orchards and the rose
Vague, odorous lips the south wind blows,
Peopling the night with whispers of
Romance and palely passionate love.
The heaven of your balcony
Smiles down two stars, that say to me
More peril than Angelica
Wrought with her beauty in Cathay.
Oh, stoop to me! and, speaking, reach
My soul like song that learned sweet speech
From some dim instrument--who knows?--
Or flower, a dulcimer or rose.
_Non numero horas nisi serenas_
When Fall drowns morns in mist, it seems
In soul I am a part of it;
A portion of its humid beams,
A form of fog, I seem to flit
From dreams to dreams....
An old chateau sleeps 'mid the hills
Of France: an avenue of sorbs
Conceals it: drifts of daffodils
Bloom by a 'scutcheoned gate with barbs
Like iron bills.
I pass the gate unquestioned; yet,
I feel, announced. Broad holm-oaks make
Dark pools of restless violet.
Between high bramble banks a lake,--
As in a net
The tangled scales twist silver,--shines....
Gray, mossy turrets swell above
A sea of leaves. And where the pines
Shade ivied walls, there lies my love,
My heart divines.
I know her window, slimly seen
From distant lanes with hawthorn hedged:
Her garden, with the nectarine
Espaliered, and the peach tree, wedged
'Twixt walls of green.
Cool-babbling a fountain falls
From gryphons' mouths in porphyry;
Carp haunt its waters; and white balls
Of lilies dip it when the bee
Creeps in and drawls.
And butterflies--each with a face
Of faery on its wings--that seem
Beheaded pansies, softly chase
Each other down the gloom and gleam
And roses! roses, soft as vair,
Round sylvan statues and the old
Stone dial--Pompadours, that wear
Their royalty of purple and gold
With wanton air....
Her scarf, her lute, whose ribbons breathe
The perfume of her touch; her gloves,
Modeling the daintiness they sheathe;
Her fan, a Watteau, gay with loves,
Lie there beneath
A bank of eglantine, that heaps
A rose-strewn shadow.--Naive-eyed,
With lips as suave as they, she sleeps;
The romance by her, open wide,
O'er which she weeps.
Man's are the learnings of his books--
What is all knowledge that he knows
Beside the wit of winding brooks,
The wisdom of the summer rose!
How soil distills the scent in flowers
Baffles his science: heaven-dyed,
How, from the palette of His hours,
God gives them colors, hath defied.
What dream of heaven begets the light?
Or, ere the stars beat burning tunes,
Stains all the hollow edge of night
With glory as of molten moons?
Who is it answers what is birth
Or death, that nothing may retard?
Or what is love, that seems of Earth,
Yet wears God's own divine regard?
TO A WINDFLOWER
Teach me the secret of thy loveliness,
That, being made wise, I may aspire to be
As beautiful in thought, and so express
Immortal truths to Earth's mortality;
Though to my soul ability be less
Than 'tis to thee, O sweet anemone.
Teach me the secret of thy innocence,
That in simplicity I may grow wise;
Asking of Art no other recompense
Than the approval of her own just eyes;
So may I rise to some fair eminence,
Though less than thine, O cousin of the skies.
Teach me these things; through whose high knowledge, I,--
When Death hath poured oblivion through my veins,
And brought me home, as all are brought, to lie
In that vast house, common to serfs and thanes,--
I shall not die, I shall not utterly die,
For beauty born of beauty--_that_ remains.
Where are they, that song and tale
Tell of? lands our childhood knew?
Sea-locked Faerylands that trail
Morning summits, dim with dew,
Crimson o'er a crimson sail.
Where in dreams we entered on
Wonders eyes have never seen:
Whither often we have gone,
Sailing a dream-brigantine
On from voyaging dawn to dawn.
Leons seeking lands of song;
Fabled fountains pouring spray;
Where our anchors dropped among
Corals of some tropic bay,
With its swarthy native throng.
Shoulder ax and arquebus!--
We may find it!--past yon range
Of sierras, vaporous,
Rich with gold and wild and strange
That lost region dear to us.
Yet, behold, although our zeal
Darien summits may subdue,
Our Balboa eyes reveal
But a vaster sea come to--
New endeavor for our keel.
Yet! who sails with face set hard
Westward,--while behind him lies
Unfaith,--where his dreams keep guard
Round it, in the sunset skies,
He may reach it--afterward.
_"We have the receipt of fern seed: we walk invisible."_
And we have met but twice or thrice!--
Three times enough to make me love!--
I praised your hair once; then your glove;
Your eyes; your gown;--you were like ice;
And yet this might suffice, my love,
And yet this might suffice.
St. John hath told me what to do:
To search and find the ferns that grow
The fern seed that the faeries know;
Then sprinkle fern seed in my shoe,
And haunt the steps of you, my dear,
And haunt the steps of you.
You'll see the poppy pods dip here;
The blow-ball of the thistle slip,
And no wind breathing--but my lip
Next to your anxious cheek and ear,
To tell you I am near, my love,
To tell you I am near.
On wood-ways I shall tread your gown--
You'll know it is no brier!--then
I'll whisper words of love again,
And smile to see your quick face frown:
And then I'll kiss it down, my dear,
And then I'll kiss it down.
And when at home you read or knit,--
Who'll know it was my hands that blotted
The page?--or all your needles knotted?
When in your rage you cry a bit:
And loud I laugh at it, my love,
And loud I laugh at it.
The secrets that you say in prayer
Right so I'll hear: and, when you sing,
The name you speak; and whispering
I'll bend and kiss your mouth and hair,
And tell you I am there, my dear,
And tell you I am there.
Would it were true what people say!--
Would I _could_ find that elfin seed!
Then should I win your love, indeed,
By being near you night and day--
There is no other way, my love,
There is no other way.
Meantime the truth in this is said:
It is my soul that follows you;
It needs no fern seed in the shoe,--
While in the heart love pulses red,
To win you and to wed, my dear,
To win you and to wed.
_"'He cometh not,' she said."_--MARIANA
It will not be to-day and yet
I think and dream it will; and let
The slow uncertainty devise
So many sweet excuses, met
With the old doubt in hope's disguise.
The panes were sweated with the dawn;
Yet through their dimness, shriveled drawn,
The aigret of one princess-feather,
One monk's-hood tuft with oilets wan,
I glimpsed, dead in the slaying weather.
This morning, when my window's chintz
I drew, how gray the day was!--Since
I saw him, yea, all days are gray!--
I gazed out on my dripping quince,
Defruited, gnarled; then turned away
To weep, but did not weep: but felt
A colder anguish than did melt
About the tearful-visaged year!--
Then flung the lattice wide, and smelt
The autumn sorrow: Rotting near
The rain-drenched sunflowers bent and bleached,
Up which the frost-nipped gourd-vines reached
And morning-glories, seeded o'er
With ashen aiglets; whence beseeched
One last bloom, frozen to the core.
The podded hollyhocks,--that Fall
Had stripped of finery,--by the wall
Rustled their tatters; dripped and dripped,
The fog thick on them: near them, all
The tarnished, haglike zinnias tipped.
I felt the death and loved it: yea,
To have it nearer, sought the gray,
Chill, fading garth. Yet could not weep,
But wandered in an aimless way,
And sighed with weariness for sleep.
Mine were the fog, the frosty stalks;
The weak lights on the leafy walks;
The shadows shivering with the cold;
The breaking heart; the lonely talks;
The last, dim, ruined marigold.
But when to-night the moon swings low--
A great marsh-marigold of glow--
And all my garden with the sea
Moans, then, through moon and mist, I know
My love will come to comfort me.
IN THE WOOD
The waterfall, deep in the wood,
Talked drowsily with solitude,
A soft, insistent sound of foam,
That filled with sleep the forest's dome,
Where, like some dream of dusk, she stood
The crickets' tinkling chips of sound
Strewed dim the twilight-twinkling ground;
A whippoorwill began to cry,
And glimmering through the sober sky
A bat went on its drunken round,
Its shadow following on the ground.
Then from a bush, an elder-copse,
That spiced the dark with musky tops,
What seemed, at first, a shadow came
And took her hand and spoke her name,
And kissed her where, in starry drops,
The dew orbed on the elder-tops.
The glaucous glow of fireflies
Flickered the dusk; and foxlike eyes
Peered from the shadows; and the hush
Murmured a word of wind and rush
Of fluttering waters, fragrant sighs,
And dreams unseen of mortal eyes.
The beetle flung its burr of sound
Against the hush and clung there, wound
In night's deep mane: then, in a tree,
A grig began deliberately
To file the stillness: all around
A wire of shrillness seemed unwound.
I looked for those two lovers there;
His ardent eyes, her passionate hair.
The moon looked down, slow-climbing wan
Heaven's slope of azure: they were gone:
But where they'd passed I heard the air
Sigh, faint with sweetness of her hair.
I found myself among the trees
What time the reapers ceased to reap;
And in the sunflower-blooms the bees
Huddled brown heads and went to sleep,
Rocked by the balsam-breathing breeze.
I saw the red fox leave his lair,
A shaggy shadow, on the knoll;
And tunneling his thoroughfare
Beneath the soil, I watched the mole--
Stealth's own self could not take more care.
I heard the death-moth tick and stir,
Slow-honeycombing through the bark;
I heard the cricket's drowsy chirr,
And one lone beetle burr the dark--
The sleeping woodland seemed to purr.
And then the moon rose: and one white
Low bough of blossoms--grown almost
Where, ere you died, 'twas our delight
To meet,--dear heart!--I thought your ghost....
The wood is haunted since that night.
DUSK IN THE WOODS
Three miles of trees it is: and I
Came through the woods that waited, dumb,
For the cool summer dusk to come;
And lingered there to watch the sky
Up which the gradual splendor clomb.
A tree-toad quavered in a tree;
And then a sudden whippoorwill
Called overhead, so wildly shrill
The sleeping wood, it seemed to me,
Cried out and then again was still.
Then through dark boughs its stealthy flight
An owl took; and, at drowsy strife,
The cricket tuned its faery fife;
And like a ghost-flower, silent white,
The wood-moth glimmered into life.
And in the dead wood everywhere
The insects ticked, or bored below
The rotted bark; and, glow on glow,
The lambent fireflies here and there
Lit up their jack-o'-lantern show.
I heard a vesper-sparrow sing,
Withdrawn, it seemed, into the far
Slow sunset's tranquil cinnabar;
The crimson, softly smoldering
Behind the trees, with its one star.
A dog barked: and down ways that gleamed,
Through dew and clover, faint the noise
Of cowbells moved. And then a voice,
That sang a-milking, so it seemed,
Made glad my heart as some glad boy's.
And then the lane: and, full in view,
A farmhouse with its rose-grown gate,
And honeysuckle paths, await
For night, the moon, and love and you--
These are the things that made me late.
What words of mine can tell the spell
Of garden ways I know so well?--
The path that takes me in the spring
Past quince-trees where the bluebirds sing,
And peonies are blossoming,
Unto a porch, wistaria-hung,
Around whose steps May-lilies blow,
A fair girl reaches down among,
Her arm more white than their sweet snow.
What words of mine can tell the spell
Of garden ways I know so well?--
Another path that leads me, when
The summer time is here again,
Past hollyhocks that shame the west
When the red sun has sunk to rest;
To roses bowering a nest,
A lattice, 'neath which mignonette
And deep geraniums surge and sough,
Where, in the twilight, starless yet,
A fair girl's eyes are stars enough.
What words of mine can tell the spell
Of garden ways I know so well?--
A path that takes me, when the days
Of autumn wrap the hills in haze,
Beneath the pippin-pelting tree,
'Mid flitting butterfly and bee;
Unto a door where, fiery,
The creeper climbs; and, garnet-hued,
The cock's-comb and the dahlia flare,
And in the door, where shades intrude,
Gleams bright a fair girl's sunbeam hair.
What words of mine can tell the spell
Of garden ways I know so well?--
A path that brings me through the frost
Of winter, when the moon is tossed
In clouds; beneath great cedars, weak
With shaggy snow; past shrubs blown bleak
With shivering leaves; to eaves that leak
The tattered ice, whereunder is
A fire-flickering window-space;
And in the light, with lips to kiss,
A fair girl's welcome-smiling face.
First I asked the honeybee,
Busy in the balmy bowers;
Saying, "Sweetheart, tell it me:
Have you seen her, honeybee?
She is cousin to the flowers--
All the sweetness of the south
In her wild-rose face and mouth."
But the bee passed silently.
Then I asked the forest bird,
Warbling by the woodland waters;
Saying, "Dearest, have you heard?
Have you heard her, forest bird?
She is one of music's daughters--
Never song so sweet by half
As the music of her laugh."
But the bird said not a word.
Next I asked the evening sky,
Hanging out its lamps of fire;
Saying, "Loved one, passed she by?
Tell me, tell me, evening sky!
She, the star of my desire--
Sister whom the Pleiads lost,
And my soul's high pentecost."
But the sky made no reply.
Where is she? ah, where is she?
She to whom both love and duty
Bind me, yea, immortally.--
Where is she? ah, where is she?
Symbol of the Earth-Soul's beauty.
I have lost her. Help my heart
Find her! her, who is a part
Of the pagan soul of me.
THE GARDEN OF DREAMS
Not while I live may I forget
That garden which my spirit trod!
Where dreams were flowers, wild and wet,
And beautiful as God.
Not while I breathe, awake, adream,
Shall live again for me those hours,
When, in its mystery and gleam,
I met her 'mid the flowers.
Eyes, talismanic heliotrope,
Beneath mesmeric lashes, where
The sorceries of love and hope
Had made a shining lair.
And daydawn brows, whereover hung
The twilight of dark locks: wild birds,
Her lips, that spoke the rose's tongue
Of fragrance-voweled words.
I will not tell of cheeks and chin,
That held me as sweet language holds;
Nor of the eloquence within
Her breasts' twin-mooned molds.
Nor of her body's languorous
Wind-grace, that glanced like starlight through
Her clinging robe's diaphanous
Web of the mist and dew.
There is no star so pure and high
As was her look; no fragrance such
As her soft presence; and no sigh
Of music like her touch.
Not while I live may I forget
That garden of dim dreams, where I
And Beauty born of Music met,
Whose spirit passed me by.
THE PATH TO FAERY
When dusk falls cool as a rained-on rose,
And a tawny tower the twilight shows,
With the crescent moon, the silver moon, the curved
new moon in a space that glows,
A turret window that grows alight;
There is a path that my Fancy knows,
A glimmering, shimmering path of night,
That far as the Land of Faery goes.
And I follow the path, as Fancy leads,
Over the mountains, into the meads,
Where the firefly cities, the glowworm cities, the faery
cities are strung like beads,
Each city a twinkling star:
And I live a life of valorous deeds,
And march with the Faery King to war,
And ride with his knights on milk-white steeds.
Or it's there in the whirl of their life I sit,
Or dance in their houses with starlight lit,
Their blossom houses, their flower houses, their elfin
houses, of fern leaves knit,
With fronded spires and domes:
And there it is that my lost dreams flit,
And the ghost of my childhood, smiling, roams
With the faery children so dear to it.
And it's there I hear that they all come true,
The faery stories, whatever they do--
Elf and goblin, dear elf and goblin, loved elf and goblin,
and all the crew
Of witch and wizard and gnome and fay,
And prince and princess, that wander through
The storybooks we have put away,
The faerytales that we loved and knew.
The face of Adventure lures you there,
And the eyes of Danger bid you dare,
While ever the bugles, the silver bugles, the far-off
bugles of Elfland blare,
The faery trumpets to battle blow;
And you feel their thrill in your heart and hair,
And you fain would follow and mount and go
And march with the Faeries anywhere.
And she--she rides at your side again,
Your little sweetheart whose age is ten:
She is the princess, the faery princess, the princess fair
that you worshiped when
You were a prince in a faerytale;
And you do great deeds as you did them then,
With your magic spear, and enchanted mail,
Braving the dragon in his den.
And you ask again,--"Oh, where shall we ride,
Now that the monster is slain, my bride?"--
"Back to the cities, the firefly cities, the glowworm
cities where we can hide,
The beautiful cities of Faeryland.
And the light of my eyes shall be your guide,
The light of my eyes and my snow-white hand--
And there forever we two will abide."
THERE ARE FAERIES
There are faeries, bright of eye,
Who the wildflowers' warders are:
Ouphes, that chase the firefly;
Elves, that ride the shooting-star:
Fays, who in a cobweb lie,
Swinging on a moonbeam bar;
Or who harness bumblebees,
Grumbling on the clover leas,
To a blossom or a breeze--
That's their faery car.
If you care, you too may see
There are faeries.--Verily,
There are faeries.
There are faeries. I could swear
I have seen them busy, where
Roses loose their scented hair,
In the moonlight weaving, weaving,
Out of starlight and the dew,
Glinting gown and shimmering shoe;
Or, within a glowworm lair,
From the dark earth slowly heaving
Mushrooms whiter than the moon,
On whose tops they sit and croon,
With their grig-like mandolins,
To fair faery ladykins,
Leaning from the windowsill
Of a rose or daffodil,
Listening to their serenade
All of cricket-music made.
Follow me, oh, follow me!
Ho! away to Faerie!
Where your eyes like mine may see
There are faeries.--Verily,
There are faeries.
There are faeries. Elves that swing
In a wild and rainbow ring
Through the air; or mount the wing
Of a bat to courier news
To the faery King and Queen:
Fays, who stretch the gossamers
On which twilight hangs the dews;
Who, within the moonlight sheen,
Whisper dimly in the ears
Of the flowers words so sweet
That their hearts are turned to musk
And to honey; things that beat
In their veins of gold and blue:
Ouphes, that shepherd moths of dusk--
Soft of wing and gray of hue--
Forth to pasture on the dew.
There are faeries; verily;
For the old owl in the tree,
He who maketh melody
For them tripping merrily,
Told it me.
There are faeries.--Verily,
There are faeries.
THE SPIRIT OF THE FOREST SPRING
Over the rocks she trails her locks,
Her mossy locks that drip, drip, drip:
Her sparkling eyes smile at the skies
In friendship-wise and fellowship:
While the gleam and glance of her countenance
Lull into trance the woodland places,
As over the rocks she trails her locks,
Her dripping locks that the long fern graces.
She pours clear ooze from her heart's cool cruse,
Its crystal cruse that drips, drips, drips:
And all the day its limpid spray
Is heard to play from her finger tips:
And the slight, soft sound makes haunted ground
Of the woods around that the sunlight laces,
As she pours clear ooze from her heart's cool cruse,
Its dripping cruse that no man traces.
She swims and swims with glimmering limbs,
With lucid limbs that drip, drip, drip:
Where beechen boughs build a leafy house,
Where her eyes may drowse or her beauty trip:
And the liquid beat of her rippling feet
Makes three times sweet the forest mazes,
As she swims and swims with glimmering limbs,
With dripping limbs through the twilight hazes.
Then wrapped in deeps of the wild she sleeps,
She whispering sleeps and drips, drips, drips:
Where moon and mist wreathe neck and wrist,
And, starry-whist, through the dark she slips:
While the heavenly dream of her soul makes gleam
The falls that stream and the foam that races,
As wrapped in the deeps of the wild she sleeps,
She dripping sleeps or starward gazes.
IN A GARDEN
The pink rose drops its petals on
The moonlit lawn, the moonlit lawn;
The moon, like some wide rose of white,
Drops down the summer night.
No rose there is
As sweet as this--
Thy mouth, that greets me with a kiss.
The lattice of thy casement twines
With jasmine vines, with jasmine vines;
The stars, like jasmine blossoms, lie
About the glimmering sky.
No jasmine tress
Can so caress
Like thy white arms' soft loveliness.
About thy door magnolia blooms
Make sweet the glooms, make sweet the glooms;
A moon-magnolia is the dusk
Closed in a dewy husk.
No bloom gives such
Soft fragrance as thy bosom's touch.
The flowers blooming now will pass,
And strew the grass, and strew the grass;
The night, like some frail flower, dawn
Will soon make gray and wan.
Still, still above,
The flower of
True love shall live forever, Love.
IN THE LANE
When the hornet hangs in the hollyhock,
And the brown bee drones i' the rose;
And the west is a red-streaked four-o'clock,
And summer is near its close--
It's oh, for the gate and the locust lane,
And dusk and dew and home again!
When the katydid sings and the cricket cries,
And ghosts of the mists ascend;
And the evening star is a lamp i' the skies,
And summer is near its end--
It's oh, for the fence and the leafy lane,
And the twilight peace and the tryst again!
When the owlet hoots in the dogwood tree,
That leans to the rippling Run;
And the wind is a wildwood melody,
And summer is almost done--
It's oh, for the bridge and the bramble lane,
And the fragrant hush and her hands again!
When fields smell sweet with the dewy hay,
And woods are cool and wan,
And a path for dreams is the Milky Way,
And summer is nearly gone--
It's oh, for the rock and the woodland lane,
And the silence and stars and her lips again!
When the weight of the apples breaks down the boughs,
And muskmelons split with sweet;
And the moon is a light in Heaven's house,
And summer has spent its heat--
It's oh, for the lane, the trysting lane,
The deep-mooned night and her love again!
THE WINDOW ON THE HILL
Among the fields the camomile
Seems blown mist in the lightning's glare:
Cool, rainy odors drench the air;
Night speaks above; the angry smile
Of storm within her stare.
The way that I shall take to-night
Is through the wood whose branches fill
The road with double darkness, till,
Between the boughs, a window's light
Shines out upon the hill.
The fence; and then the path that goes
Around a trailer-tangled rock,
Through puckered pink and hollyhock,
Unto a latch-gate's unkempt rose,
And door whereat I knock.
Bright on the oldtime flower place
The lamp streams through the foggy pane;
The door is opened to the rain:
And in the door--her happy face
And outstretched arms again.
Above her, pearl and rose the heavens lay:
Around her, flowers flattered earth with gold,
Or down the path in insolence held sway--
Like cavaliers who ride the king's highway--
Scarlet and buff, within a garden old.
Beyond the hills, faint-heard through belts of wood,
Bells, Sabbath-sweet, swooned from some far-off town:
Gamboge and gold, broad sunset colors strewed
The purple west as if, with God imbued,
Her mighty palette Nature there laid down.
Amid such flowers, underneath such skies,
Embodying all life knows of sweet and fair,
She stood; love's dreams in girlhood's face and eyes,
Fair as a star that comes to emphasize
The mingled beauty of the earth and air.
Behind her, seen through vines and orchard trees,
Gray with its twinkling windows--like the face
Of calm old age that sits and dreams at ease--
Porched with old roses, haunts of honeybees,
The homestead loomed within a lilied space.
For whom she waited in the afterglow,
Star-eyed and golden 'mid the poppy and rose,
I do not know; I do not care to know,--
It is enough I keep her picture so,
Hung up, like poetry, in my life's dull prose.
A fragrant picture, where I still may find
Her face untouched of sorrow or regret,
Unspoiled of contact; ever young and kind;
The spiritual sweetheart of my soul and mind,
She had not been, perhaps, if we had met.
When by the wall the tiger-flower swings
A head of sultry slumber and aroma;
And by the path, whereon the blown rose flings
Its obsolete beauty, the long lilies foam a
White place of perfume, like a beautiful breast--
Between the pansy fire of the west,
And poppy mist of moonrise in the east,
This heartache will have ceased.
The witchcraft of soft music and sweet sleep--
Let it beguile the burthen from my spirit,
And white dreams reap me as strong reapers reap
The ripened grain and full blown blossom near it;
Let me behold how gladness gives the whole
The transformed countenance of my own soul--
Between the sunset and the risen moon
Let sorrow vanish soon.
And these things then shall keep me company:
The elfins of the dew; the spirit of laughter
Who haunts the wind; the god of melody
Who sings within the stream, that reaches after
The flow'rs that rock themselves to his caress:
These of themselves shall shape my happiness,
Whose visible presence I shall lean upon,
Feeling that care is gone.
Forgetting how the cankered flower must die;
The worm-pierced fruit fall, sicklied to its syrup;
How joy, begotten 'twixt a sigh and sigh,
Waits with one foot forever in the stirrup,--
Remembering how within the hollow lute
Soft music sleeps when music's voice is mute;
And in the heart, when all seems black despair,
Hope sits, awaiting there.
POPPY AND MANDRAGORA
Let us go far from here!
Here there is sadness in the early year:
Here sorrow waits where joy went laughing late:
The sicklied face of heaven hangs like hate
Above the woodland and the meadowland;
And Spring hath taken fire in her hand
Of frost and made a dead bloom of her face,
Which was a flower of marvel once and grace,
And sweet serenity and stainless glow.
Delay not. Let us go.
Let us go far away
Into the sunrise of a fairer May:
Where all the nights resign them to the moon,
And drug their souls with odor and soft tune,
And tell their dreams in starlight: where the hours
Teach immortality with fadeless flowers;
And all the day the bee weights down the bloom,
And all the night the moth shakes strange perfume,
Like music, from the flower-bells' affluence.
Let us go far from hence.
Why should we sit and weep,
And yearn with heavy eyelids still to sleep?
Forever hiding from our hearts the hate,--
Death within death,--life doth accumulate,
Like winter snows along the barren leas
And sterile hills, whereon no lover sees
The crocus limn the beautiful in flame;
Or hyacinth and jonquil write the name
Of Love in fire, for each passer-by.
Why should we sit and sigh?
We will not stay and long,
Here where our souls are wasting for a song;
Where no bird sings; and, dim beneath the stars,
No silvery water strikes melodious bars;
And in the rocks and forest-covered hills
No quick-tongued echo from her grotto fills
With eery syllables the solitude--
The vocal image of the voice that wooed--
She, of wild sounds the airy looking-glass.
Our souls are tired, alas!
What should we say to her?--
To Spring, who in our hearts makes no sweet stir:
Who looks not on us nor gives thought unto:
Too busy with the birth of flowers and dew,
And vague gold wings within the chrysalis;
Or Love, who will not miss us; had no kiss
To give your soul or the sad soul of me,
Who bound our hearts to her in poesy,
Long since, and wear her badge of service still.--
Have we not served our fill?
We will go far away.
Song will not care, who slays our souls each day
With the dark daggers of denying eyes,
And lips of silence! ... Had she sighed us lies,
Not passionate, yet falsely tremulous,
And lent her mouth to ours in mockery; thus
Smiled from calm eyes as if appreciative;
Then, then our love had taught itself to live
Feeding itself on hope, and recompense.
But no!--So let us hence.
So be the Bible shut
Of all her Beauty, and her wisdom but
A clasp for memory! We will not seek
The light that came not when the soul was weak
With longing, and the darkness gave no sign
Of star-born comfort. Nay! why kneel and whine
Sad psalms of patience and hosannas of
Old hope and dreary canticles of love?--
Let us depart, since, as we long supposed,
For us God's book was closed.
A ROAD SONG
It's--Oh, for the hills, where the wind's some one
With a vagabond foot that follows!
And a cheer-up hand that he claps upon
Your arm with the hearty words, "Come on!
We'll soon be out of the hollows,
We'll soon be out of the hollows."
It's--Oh, for the songs, where the hope's some one
With a renegade foot that doubles!
And a jolly lilt that he flings to the sun
As he turns with the friendly laugh, "Come on!
We'll soon be out of the troubles,
We'll soon be out of the troubles!"
This was her home; one mossy gable thrust
Above the cedars and the locust trees:
This was her home, whose beauty now is dust,
A lonely memory for melodies
The wild birds sing, the wild birds and the bees.
Here every evening is a prayer: no boast
Or ruin of sunset makes the wan world wroth;
Here, through the twilight, like a pale flower's ghost,
A drowsy flutter, flies the tiger-moth;
And dusk spreads darkness like a dewy cloth.
In vagabond velvet, on the placid day,
A stain of crimson, lolls the butterfly;
The south wind sows with ripple and with ray
The pleasant waters; and the gentle sky
Looks on the homestead like a quiet eye.
Their melancholy quaver, lone and low,
When day is done, the gray tree-toads repeat:
The whippoorwills, far in the afterglow,
Complain to silence: and the lightnings beat,
In one still cloud, glimmers of golden heat.
He comes not yet: not till the dusk is dead,
And all the western glow is far withdrawn;
Not till,--a sleepy mouth love's kiss makes red,--
The baby bud opes in a rosy yawn,
Breathing sweet guesses at the dreamed-of dawn.
When in the shadows, like a rain of gold,
The fireflies stream steadily; and bright
Along the moss the glowworm, as of old,
A crawling sparkle--like a crooked light
In smoldering vellum--scrawls a square of night,--
Then will he come; and she will lean to him,--
She,--the sweet phantom,--memory of that place,--
Between the starlight and his eyes; so dim
With suave control and soul-compelling grace,
He cannot help but speak her, face to face.
INTIMATIONS OF THE BEAUTIFUL
The hills are full of prophecies
And ancient voices of the dead;
Of hidden shapes that no man sees,
Pale, visionary presences,
That speak the things no tongue hath said,
No mind hath thought, no eye hath read.
The streams are full of oracles,
And momentary whisperings;
An immaterial beauty swells
Its breezy silver o'er the shells
With wordless speech that sings and sings
The message of diviner things.
No indeterminable thought is theirs,
The stars', the sunsets' and the flowers';
Whose inexpressible speech declares
Th' immortal Beautiful, who shares
This mortal riddle which is ours,
Beyond the forward-flying hours.
It holds and beckons in the streams;
It lures and touches us in all
The flowers of the golden fall--
The mystic essence of our dreams:
A nymph blows bubbling music where
Faint water ripples down the rocks;
A faun goes dancing hoiden locks,
And piping a Pandean air,
Through trees the instant wind shakes bare.
Our dreams are never otherwise
Than real when they hold us so;
We in some future life shall know
Them parts of it and recognize
Them as ideal substance, whence
The actual is--(as flowers and trees,
From color sources no one sees,
Draw dyes, the substance of a sense)--
Material with intelligence.
What intimations made them wise,
The mournful pine, the pleasant beech?
What strange and esoteric speech?--
(Communicated from the skies
In runic whispers)--that invokes
The boles that sleep within the seeds,
And out of narrow darkness leads
The vast assemblies of the oaks.
Within his knowledge, what one reads
The poems written by the flowers?
The sermons, past all speech of ours,
Preached by the gospel of the weeds?--
O eloquence of coloring!
O thoughts of syllabled perfume!
O beauty uttered into bloom!
Teach me your language! let me sing!
Along my mind flies suddenly
A wildwood thought that will not die;
That makes me brother to the bee,
And cousin to the butterfly:
A thought, such as gives perfume to
The blushes of the bramble-rose,
And, fixed in quivering crystal, glows
A captive in the prismed dew.
It leads the feet no certain way;
No frequent path of human feet:
Its wild eyes follow me all day;
All day I hear its wild heart beat:
And in the night it sings and sighs
The songs the winds and waters love;
Its wild heart lying tranced above,
And tranced the wildness of its eyes.
Oh, joy, to walk the way that goes
Through woods of sweet-gum and of beech!
Where, like a ruby left in reach,
The berry of the dogwood glows:
Or where the bristling hillsides mass,
'Twixt belts of tawny sassafras,
Brown shocks of corn in wigwam rows!
Where, in the hazy morning, runs
The stony branch that pools and drips,
The red-haws and the wild-rose hips
Are strewn like pebbles; and the sun's
Own gold seems captured by the weeds;
To see, through scintillating seeds,
The hunters steal with glimmering guns!
Oh, joy, to go the path which lies
Through woodlands where the trees are tall!
Beneath the misty moon of fall,
Whose ghostly girdle prophesies
A morn wind-swept and gray with rain;
When, o'er the lonely, leaf-blown lane,
The night-hawk like a dead leaf flies!
To stand within the dewy ring
Where pale death smites the boneset blooms,
And everlasting's flowers, and plumes
Of mint, with aromatic wing!
And hear the creek,--whose sobbing seems
A wild-man murmuring in his dreams,--
And insect violins that sing.
Or where the dim persimmon tree
Rains on the path its frosty fruit,
And in the oak the owl doth hoot,
Beneath the moon and mist, to see
The outcast Year go,--Hagar-wise,--
With far-off, melancholy eyes,
And lips that sigh for sympathy.
Towards evening, where the sweet-gum flung
Its thorny balls among the weeds,
And where the milkweed's sleepy seeds,--
A faery Feast of Lanterns,--swung;
The cricket tuned a plaintive lyre,
And o'er the hills the sunset hung
A purple parchment scrawled with fire.
From silver-blue to amethyst
The shadows deepened in the vale;
And belt by belt the pearly-pale
Aladdin fabric of the mist
Built up its exhalation far;
A jewel on an Afrit's wrist,
One star gemmed sunset's cinnabar.
Then night drew near, as when, alone,
The heart and soul grow intimate;
And on the hills the twilight sate
With shadows, whose wild robes were sown
With dreams and whispers;--dreams, that led
The heart once with love's monotone,
And memories of the living-dead.
All night the rain-gusts shook the leaves
Around my window; and the blast
Rumbled the flickering flue, and fast
The storm streamed from the dripping eaves.
As if--'neath skies gone mad with fear--
The witches' Sabboth galloped past,
The forests leapt like startled deer.
All night I heard the sweeping sleet;
And when the morning came, as slow
As wan affliction, with the woe
Of all the world dragged at her feet,
No spear of purple shattered through
The dark gray of the east; no bow
Of gold shot arrows swift and blue.
But rain, that whipped the windows; filled
The spouts with rushings; and around
The garden stamped, and sowed the ground
With limbs and leaves; the wood-pool filled
With overgurgling.--Bleak and cold
The fields looked, where the footpath wound
Through teasel and bur-marigold.
Yet there's a kindness in such days
Of gloom, that doth console regret
With sympathy of tears, which wet
Old eyes that watch the back-log blaze.--
A kindness, alien to the deep
Glad blue of sunny days that let
No thought in of the lives that weep.
This dawn, through which the Autumn glowers,--
As might a face within our sleep,
With stone-gray eyes that weep and weep,
And wet brows bound with sodden flowers,--
Is sunset to some sister land;
A land of ruins and of palms;
Rich sunset, crimson with long calms,--
Whose burning belt low mountains bar,--
That sees some brown Rebecca stand
Beside a well the camel-band
Winds down to 'neath the evening star.
O sunset, sister to this dawn!
O dawn, whose face is turned away!
Who gazest not upon this day,
But back upon the day that's gone!
Enamored so of loveliness,
The retrospect of what thou wast,
Oh, to thyself the present trust!
And as thy past be beautiful
With hues, that never can grow less!
Waiting thy pleasure to express
New beauty lest the world grow dull.
Down in the woods a sorcerer,
Out of rank rain and death, distills,--
Through chill alembics of the air,--
Aromas that brood everywhere
Among the whisper-haunted hills:
The bitter myrrh of dead leaves fills
Wet valleys (where the gaunt weeds bleach)
With rainy scents of wood-decay;--
As if a spirit all the day
Sat breathing softly 'neath the beech.
With other eyes I see her flit,
The wood-witch of the wild perfumes,
Among her elfin owls,--that sit,
A drowsy white, in crescent-lit
Dim glens of opalescent glooms:--
Where, for her magic, buds and blooms
Mysterious perfumes, while she stands,
A thornlike shadow, summoning
The sleepy odors, that take wing
Like bubbles from her dewy hands.
Among the woods they call to me--
The lights that haunt the wood and stream;
Voices of such white ecstasy
As moves with hushed lips through a dream:
They stand in auraed radiances,
Or flash with nimbused limbs across
Their golden shadows on the moss,
Or slip in silver through the trees.
What love can give the heart in me
More hope and exaltation than
The hand of light that tips the tree
And beckons far from marts of man?
That reaches foamy fingers through
The broken ripple, and replies
With sparkling speech of lips and eyes
To souls who seek and still pursue.
Give me the streams, that counterfeit
The twilight of autumnal skies;
The shadowy, silent waters, lit
With fire like a woman's eyes!
Slow waters that, in autumn, glass
The scarlet-strewn and golden grass,
And drink the sunset's tawny dyes.
Give me the pools, that lie among
The centuried forests! give me those,
Deep, dim, and sad as darkness hung
Beneath the sunset's somber rose:
Still pools, in whose vague mirrors look--
Like ragged gypsies round a book
Of magic--trees in wild repose.
No quiet thing, or innocent,
Of water, earth, or air shall please
My soul now: but the violent
Between the sunset and the trees:
The fierce, the splendid, and intense,
That love matures in innocence,
Like mighty music, give me these!
When thorn-tree copses still were bare
And black along the turbid brook;
When catkined willows blurred and shook
Great tawny tangles in the air;
In bottomlands, the first thaw makes
An oozy bog, beneath the trees,
Prophetic of the spring that wakes,
Sang the sonorous hylodes.
Now that wild winds have stripped the thorn,
And clogged with leaves the forest-creek;
Now that the woods look blown and bleak,
And webs are frosty white at morn;
At night beneath the spectral sky,
A far foreboding cry I hear--
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